Prime Minister’s papers from 1989 and 1990 released

Margaret Thatcher congratulates Helmet Kohl following the reunification of Germany (catalogue reference: PREM 19-3002)

Margaret Thatcher congratulates Helmet Kohl following the reunification of Germany (catalogue reference: PREM 19/3002)

Today we have released files from the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office spanning the eventful years of 1989 and 1990.

The newly released files shed light on a range of subjects both at home and abroad, and end with the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The files are available to view in the public reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. A selection of files has been digitised and can be viewed and downloaded using Discovery, our catalogue.

Domestically, these years saw unrest over the Community Charge, also known as the poll tax, (PREM 19/2763 to PREM 19/2765), political concerns over ‘acid house parties’ (PREM 19/2724), anti-nuclear demonstrations (PREM 19/2615) and proposals to curb football hooliganism (PREM 19/2722 and PREM 19/3027). Government measures were put into place to tackle the scare over salmonella in eggs (PREM 19/2904 and PREM 19/2905), while school meals, transport and free milk were subjects of debate (PREM 19/2648).

Internationally, the world was surprised by the sudden collapse of communism in Europe, encapsulated by the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent German reunification (PREM 19/2696, PREM 19/2697, PREM 19/2999, PREM 19/3000, PREM 19/3002, PREM 19/3004, PREM 19/3007). The situation in the Middle East deteriorated as Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to the Gulf War, with the British government keen to establish the safety of British nationals in both countries (PREM 19/3080).

Also included in the release is an exchange of personal letters between Thatcher and the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, discussing topical subjects and their respective visits to the United States (PREM 19/2577). Thatcher also wrote to, and received letters from, many world leaders when she resigned as Prime Minister, including one from Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in which he addressed her as ‘Margaret’ for the first time (PREM 19/3213).

Read a blog from our records specialists on this release: ‘Files from 1989 and 1990: Kuwait, condolences and acid house

You can also find out more about our previous file releases.

Explore the files

Tags: 1989, 1990, cabinet office, file release, news, poll tax, prime minister's office, thatcher